The MCU continues to expand with Kang proving himself the perfect successor to Thanos. M.O.D.O.K. gives me life! Made for anyone who can still have fun with the MCU or those looking for a heartfelt laughfest.

Rated PG-13 for violence/action and language.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Many people seem to be experiencing superhero fatigue — thankfully, not me — so it makes sense they would want to take it out on the little guy. The first two Ant-Man films are not what you’d consider top tier entries within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they manage to be sweet, hilarious, and seemingly self-contained. What wasn’t so obvious is how they’d be a driving force toward Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania kicking off phase five as part of the “Multiverse Saga.” Director Peyton Reed gets to kick things up a notch using the screenplay from Jeff Loveness (Rick and Morty) to give the Ant-Man series more action, a crazier setting, and higher stakes not just for Lang, but the MCU as well.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is living his best life. It may be a weird life, but he loves it. He’s flying high on saving the world and being an Avenger, signing his new memoir after book readings, and is back in a relationship with Hope (Evangeline Lilly). But things get a whole lot weirder after he has to bail Cassie (Kathryn Newton) out of jail, and finds out that not only does she have her own suit, but has also discovered how to send a signal to the Quantum Realm. Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) tries to warn them, but not before they all get sucked into the Quantum Realm.

Split up in unchartered territory, Scott and Cassie are being hunted by Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) with “The Hunter” aka M.O.D.O.K. (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing) aka Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) hot on their trail. Meanwhile, Hank (Michael Douglas) and Janet have to find their way to Kang to stop him from getting his hands on Scott and Cassie in order to steal Pym Particles from their suits in a plot to finally escape the quantum realm. Now, they all have to band together — along with freedom fighters Quaz (William Jackson Harper) and Jentorra (Katy M. O’Brian) — to not just stop Kang from escaping, but to take back the world that was theirs before.

We all know haters gonna hate, and right now, all eyes are set on Quantumania. That’s on them for not knowing how to still have fun with the MCU. Some may be put off that this one veers into Star Wars territory — and why not? Reed clearly loves that saga, so why not find a place to use it, and where better than within the Quantum Realm. Things get real weird, real fast, but the screenplay is just as fun, gut bustingly funny, and heartfelt as ever. The real driving force has always been the father/daughter relationship between Scott and Cassie, and Rudd and Newton play lovingly off of each other. Watching Scott give a quick lesson on how to use her suit is super endearing, and who can’t love it anytime Scott affectionately calls her “peanut.”

Majors may take longer than expected for Kang to finally make his big appearance, but he makes the Conqueror a beast for everyone to deal with. Repercussions of his character decisions will stretch far and wide within the MCU and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. And then there’s M.O.D.O.K., a villain favorite, getting to make his big debut — and boy does he ever. While it may have been questionable to have Stoll’s Cross make his return with his hilariously giant head and swinging baby legs, Stoll is having the time of his life as one of Marvel’s most ridiculous characters. M.O.D.O.K. is the scene stealer he was born to be and every second he’s onscreen just gives me life. The whole cast is just amazing together and they all get their own moments to shine. Although Luis’s (Michael Peña) absence is absolutely felt.

It’s starting to feel as if every new entry in the MCU is going to sport heavy division among viewers regardless of how good they are. For every “why don’t they make these more comic accurate,” you’re going to see just as much “comic accurate doesn’t work.” And lots of “the Ant-Man films are too funny” followed now by “why is this Ant-Man more serious?” C’mon folks, you can’t have it both ways and Quantumania is not the first time a franchise has changed its tone. Not a single Thor film feels like what came before, so this is also nothing new for the MCU. And Bill Pope’s cinematography really opens things up for the visual effects to be the most eye-popping of the three films and MCU at large.

I’m starting to become more convinced that most people have just started to jump on the bandwagon that all comic book movies are automatically bad and forget how to have fun. And that’s a huge shame. For the rest of us, there’s plenty to be had here, Quantumania is a great introduction to Kang — and M.O.D.O.K. just gives me life. He’s as deliriously absurd as he should be. With plenty of ties to what’s come before, and nudges to what lies ahead, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the amazing kickstart to Phase 5 we hoped for, regardless of whatever snake oil others may be trying to sell you. And in typical MCU fashion, there are two end credit scenes and they are doozies!

5 out of 5

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